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The fast and the furious

Staff writer ▼ | November 27, 2009
The goal of the Bloodhound is to break the world car speed record of 1,600km/h, much faster than the speed of sound, and 135,000 horsepower make this goal very achievable.
Bloodhound
BloodhoundThe goal of the Bloodhound is to break the world car speed record of 1,600km/h, much faster than the speed of sound, and 135,000 horsepower make this goal very achievable.


Behind the project which just began is Richard Noble, the project director, who specialises in high risk ventures. Not all of them are successful, but the Thrust2 programme which brought the World Land Speed Record back to Britain in 1983 and the ThrustSSC first ever supersonic land speed record programme are the best known. The present record of 763mph was set in 1997 by the RAF pilot Andy Green, who will also drive Bloodhound. Construction work just began on a car that engineers hope will break the land speed record by more than 250km/h.

Just for comparison, 135,000 horsepower it the equivalent to the power of 180 Formula One cars. The car's pencil-shaped shell is made from forged aerospace-grade aluminium. Three engines lie under the bonnet: a 400kg Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine, a rocket and a third engine to pump fuel through to the rocket.

BloodhoundIn the middle of the Bloodhound SSC is the MCT V12 800 bhp race engine with the pump that has to move a ton of High Test Peroxide (HTP) through to the rocket catalyst in 22 seconds and at tremendous pressure. The beauty of the hybrid rocket is that it uses a safe and green oxidiser in the shape of HTP and only burns its solid fuel as long as the HTP is flowing. Shut the HTP flow off and the rocket shuts down in safety. No emergency problems of having mechanically to jettison a burning solid fuel rocket or running the risk of an explosion from shutting down a bi-propellant rocket with horizontal combustion chambers.

ThrustSSC, in which Wing Commander Green set his record at Black Rock Desert, Nevada, is the only car to have broken the sound barrier. It was engineered to cope with the severe turbulence that might have been created by the sonic boom. In practice the turbulence was minimal, a finding that paved the way for much lighter, sleeker supersonic cars such as Bloodhound.

Rather than relying on the traditional drawing board and wind-tunnel testing, almost every aspect of the 24 million dollar project will have been simulated in advance using an array of powerful supercomputers, right down to the thickness of the car’s paint. At 1,000mph an extra layer on one side of the car would be enough to alter its direction and could send it into a tailspin. The Bloodhound project recently surpassed the Met Office in terms of computing power.

Despite the incredible speed the risk of anything going wrong is low, according to Wing Commander Green. In the 111 years of land speed record attempts he points out that there have been fewer fatalities than in an average decade of Formula One. The time trial is scheduled for 2011 and will take place in a desert in the Northern Cape of South Africa.

Contributed by: Joana Rodeiro


 

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